Never let self-doubt get in the way of launching your startup. Not sure if you got everything covered? This business startup checklist will help you stay on top of your to-dos and reach your ambitious goals.
1. Create a plan with hyper-specific goals
No startup founder launches their business on the fly.
We’re willing to bet that you started your business because you spotted an opportunity in the market. Or maybe you wanted to be your own boss. Or perhaps, it’s a combination of both.
How can we make your startup dreams come true? Easy: Create a plan with specific goals, so that you can accomplish them within a time frame.
For example, instead of a fluffy goal:
“Get feedback on my startup.”
Turn it into a SMART goal to keep yourself accountable:
“Get feedback on my startup so I can test my idea and work out what’s the best way to launch it. To do this, I’ll recruit 15 beta testers from Marketing Community on Slack and request their feedback by next Friday.”
Launching a business involves many overwhelming to-dos. If you have trouble visualizing your progress, create mind maps on KeepSolid Goals. Assign due dates and KPIs to improve focus and productivity.
Source: KeepSolid Goals
KeepSolid Goals helps you further optimize your workflow with Kanban boards. You can easily update every project status and ensure everyone’s on the same page.
Grab the KeepSolid Goals annual deal on AppSumo today for $49 (usual price: $479).
2. Find out what’s bugging customers
The more you know about your customers, the more revenue you generate.
Top marketers who document their processes are 466% more successful than those who don’t. This same group of marketers often research their customers.
Coincidence? Probably not.
How do you get started on customer research when you have a modest budget and small network? Here’s what we recommend:
Read competitor reviews
Peer-to-peer review sites like G2 and Capterra are a gold mine for user research, as customers frequently share the problems they’re trying to solve and what they dislike about their current solutions.
In other words, these platforms are helpful when you’re brainstorming for a unique selling proposition (more in step 3).
Let’s imagine you’re building a customer relationship management (CRM) software, and one of your main competitors is Salesforce. While reading its reviews, you come across a customer lamenting about the frustrating user experience.
This review shares valuable insights about Salesforce’s user experience: Customers dislike clicking multiple taps to see which sales rep closed a deal.
Would you have uncovered this tidbit of information without user research? Maybe, but it goes to show just how big of a role it plays in your product’s success.
Interview prospects and reward them for their time
The trick here is to look for people who face the problem you’re solving.
As a wise founder puts it, besides researching their struggles and desires, this approach also lets you catch any potential flaws in your retention. It ensures that you’re not pouring money into a leaky bucket when you start selling your product.
To thank these prospects for their time, offer them perks such as a Starbucks gift card or one-year access to your tool.
After research, you should have a clearer idea of what makes you unique and how to create a better product than your competitors. You can then position your startup to attract these prospective customers.
3. Define what makes you special
It’s hard to capture attention with a generic value proposition.
Think about the number of times you stumble on a business tagline that claims to “improve effectiveness and productivity.” That’s a fine statement, but isn’t that what most companies are doing, too?
Go a step further with an irresistible unique selling proposition (USP).
A USP is a feature that differentiates you from your competitors.
For example, Force by Mojio, a GPS fleet management startup, offers a generous 30-day trial and GPS devices at no cost.
If you read the reviews on Capterra, you’d see that price was one of the main reasons customers made the switch to the product.
That’s the power of a memorable USP.
Not only does it shine a spotlight on your startup, but it also wins over customers from the toughest competition.
4. Test your business idea
It’s risky business promoting a fully-featured product without testing for product or market fit.
Here are three ideas to show you what we mean:
If you’re creating a client portal plugin for WordPress sites, launch a spreadsheet pack for customers to plan and organize their client projects.
If you’re building a social media scheduling suite, create a calendar to help marketers plan their social posts in the blink of an eye.
If you’ve already built an SEO tool prototype, sell just the essential features like keyword rankings and document creation and leave out the premium ones for the time being.
List your MVP on AppSumo to reach millions of customers. If you attract a significant number of customers, there’s a good chance your full-fledged product will see similar success.
Now you can breathe a sigh of relief and continue to the next step!
5. Improve with a passionate community
There’s only one way to polish your product, and that is by talking to your early users.
As an AppSumo partner, you’ll have the opportunity to tap into a built-in audience of over 1.5 million Sumo-lings (that’s what we call our community, btw) and gather early feedback.
Engage with our Sumo-lings actively, as this tells them the level of support they can expect when they sign up as a customer.
Collecting customer feedback also unlocks revenue opportunities.
When Frase launched on AppSumo, it excluded its Answer Engine tool and limited its document creations and user invites. It only added them after realizing that the lack of these features held Sumo-lings back from buying.
Source: Frase [Matt Hurley, Director of Growth at Frase, thought Sumo-lings wouldn’t be interested in Answer Engine]
After adding these features to its deal, sales skyrocketed. Frase earned $792K in total revenue and attracted over 8,000 new customers. Before launching on AppSumo, the startup had only 169 customers.
If the Frase team hadn’t engaged with these users (or had they ignored their early feedback), it wouldn’t have realized the significance of these features, let alone grow its revenue.
6. Optimize marketing efforts with a website
Now that there’s money streaming in, it’s time to put it to good use.
Build a website to optimize your marketing efforts.
With a self-hosted website, your options are endless. You can embed a sign-up form to grow your email list, attract quality leads with SEO, and even build an affiliate program to promote your product further.
Best of all, you have complete control over your website down from the domain to design. You don’t need to abide by the unpredictable rules of social media platforms.
7. Make it official
You’re seeing a steady stream of customers, and you’re all set to run your startup full-time. Time to hand in the resignation letter, champ.
There’s just one more thing left to do to make it official: Paperwork.
Register your business and open a business bank account. You should also determine the legal structure of your startup, as this will determine many areas of your business, including your personal liability and how much you pay in taxes.
Given the complexities involved, we recommend delegating it to an accountant and business lawyer.
8. Scale your business
Life is good.
You’re gaining momentum, customers are promoting your product, and TechCrunch’s contacted you for a feature.
At this stage, it’s time to scale your business. Here are three tried-and-tested ways to raise your revenue infinitely.
10X your content output in social media
Social media drives sales, so much so that 75% of B2B buyers base their purchasing decisions on it.
One would think this guarantees sales. (Post on Instagram and Facebook, write a witty caption or two, and wait for money to come in.)
Alas, it’s not as easy as it looks. According to Statusbrew, these social media challenges make it difficult for marketers to do their best work:
- Finding the right sizes for graphics for all channels
- Scaling social media efforts across multiple platforms
- Balancing daily tasks such as scheduling and writing copies
Luckily, there are several software tools that let you create and publish all your social media content in one place. Right off the bat, Simplified comes to mind.
These design suites are loaded with thousands of professionally-made templates and let you customize them to fit your brand. Simplified also helps you schedule and publish your posts without requiring you to leave its platform.
You can even generate on-brand captions and hashtags in seconds, thanks to its AI copywriting tool.
Grab the Simplified lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $79 (usual price: $360).
Align marketing and sales
How do you create content at all stages of your funnel and convert leads to sales? By getting your marketers and salespeople to work together.
LinkedIn found out that when members are exposed to a company’s marketing on the platform, they are 25% more likely to respond to its salespeople.
On the other end of the spectrum, when salespeople regularly share content created by the marketing team, they are 45% more likely to exceed their sales quota.
It’s a win-win.
Deskera is an all-in-one platform that lets you manage customer support, accounting, payroll, and invoicing.
Deskera manages the entire customer journey. Use its templates to create attractive emails, segment your leads, track your sales pipeline, and get a 360° view of your deal communication history.
Grab the Deskera annual deal on AppSumo today for $149 (usual price: $1188).
Offer multi-channel customer support
Consider the following statistics:
- 74% of consumers use multiple channels to start and complete their transactions
- 72% of customers consider it poor customer service if they have to explain their issue to multiple people
- 33% of customers have contacted a company using Facebook or other social channels
Based on these figures, we can conclude that it’s more important than ever to create a consistent customer experience at all touchpoints. But how do you manage customer support across channels, agents, and different time zones?
Omnichannel support platforms like Tactful Cognitive Helpdesk make it possible.
By having all interactions across channels like WhatsApp, Facebook, and live chat on one dashboard, you build a consistent and personalized customer experience at all stages.
Grab the Tactful Cognitive Helpdesk lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $69 (usual price: $936).
Grab your business startup checklist
We hope this guide helps you get your startup off the ground!
To recap, here’s what you’ve learned.
- Create a plan with hyper-specific goals to keep yourself accountable, so that you can complete it within a time frame.
- Find out what’s bugging your customers. Read competing products’ reviews on peer-to-peer sites and interview people who face the problem you’re solving.
- Define what makes you special. A value proposition is good. An irresistible unique selling proposition is even better.
- Test your business idea on AppSumoto gauge interest, gather feedback, and validate your use case. If your MVP generates sales, there’s a strong chance your fully-featured product will see similar success.
- Improve your product with early feedback. Engage with Sumo-lings to give them a taste of your customer support and unlock revenue opportunities.
- Build a website to optimize your marketing efforts. With a self-hosted site, you don’t need to abide by the unpredictable rules of social media platforms.
- Register your startup to make it official! Delegate these logistical tasks to a professional such as a business lawyer and accountant.
- Scale your business and amplify revenue infinitely. Effective approaches include optimizing your content output on social media, aligning marketing and sales, and offering multi-channel customer support.
Need an extra hand to stay on top of your startup? Grab your free business checklist here.